Turkey “deliberately destroyed” its chances of joining the EU by jailing Osman Kavala, a critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the European Parliament said Thursday.
MEPs adopted a nonbinding resolution strongly condemning the life sentence an Istanbul court last week handed to Kavala on controversial charges of trying to topple the government.
The 64-year-old philanthropist had already been held without conviction for more than four years.
“The current Turkish Government has deliberately destroyed any hopes of reopening its EU accession process or opening new chapters and closing open ones under the current circumstances,” the resolution said.
It called Kavala’s detention “unjust, unlawful and illegitimate” and demanded his immediate liberation.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said just after the verdict that the bloc’s members “deeply regret” it.
On Wednesday, the EU’s commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, told the European Parliament that the sentence was “a chilling warning about the shrinking space for civil society in Turkey.”
Kavala, a soft-spoken intellectual and businessman, has denied the charges levelled against him and said ahead of the court’s verdict that he was the target of “judicial assassination.”
He was accused in the court of funding large-scale anti-government protests in 2013, when Erdogan was prime minister. Erdogan has portrayed him as a leftist agent of the Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros.
Previously, Kavala was also charged with involvement in a failed 2016 putsch seen as driving a more authoritarian streak by Erdogan.
Turkey’s bid to restart EU membership negotiations have stalled as sharp tensions between Brussels and Ankara flare on numerous issues, including increased repression under Erdogan in recent years.
Germany summons Turkish envoy over Kavala verdictGermany summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin on Friday to protest a sentence of life in prison that a Turkish court handed to a prominent Turkish ... World News
Erdogan says Turkish courts proved independence by convicting Osman KavalaPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a decision to jail philanthropist Osman Kavala for life over anti-government protests in 2013 showed that Turkey’s ... World News
US ‘deeply troubled’ by ‘unjust’ conviction of Turkish activist Kavala: State deptThe United States was “deeply troubled” by the conviction Monday of a leading Turkish activist, calling his life sentence on controversial charges of ... World News
Turkey orders arrest of judges who sought release of Erdogan foesAn Istanbul court issued arrests warrants for judges Metin Ozcelik and Mustafa Baser on suspicion of membership in an illegal organisation Middle East